Date: September 6, 2020
Event: Cook Out Southern 500 (Round 27 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Darlington Raceway (1.366-mile Oval)
Format: 367 laps (3 Stages: 115 laps / 230 laps / 367 laps)
Start/Finish: 30th/4th (Running, Completed 367 of 367 laps)
Race Winner: Kevin Harvick
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1 – 115)
- Erik Jones and the No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota Camry team started the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway from the 30th position and finished stage one in 11th.
- Returning to Darlington Raceway as the defending Southern 500 winner, Jones and the No. 20 Toyota Camry team started the 367-lap race from the 30th position and were scored 15th when the caution flag was displayed on lap 25 for the scheduled competition caution. With the handling of the Sport Clips Camry on the free side, Jones pitted for four tires, fuel and a set of adjustments. The race restarted on lap 32 with Jones in the 16th position.
- Making his way inside the top 15, Jones made a scheduled green-flag stop on lap 70 for four tires, fuel and adjustments to help with the handling of the Sport Clips Camry.
- The caution flag waved on lap 80 for debris with Jones in the 10th position. The team again called Jones to pit road for four tires and fuel. The race restarted on lap 86 with the No. 20 team in the 12th position.
- Jones made his way as high as ninth before slipping to 11th at the end of stage one. With the caution flag displayed on lap 115 to end the stage, crew chief Chris Gayle called Jones to pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments to help free up the front end of the Sport Clips Camry.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 116 – 230)
- Jones started the second stage from the ninth position and finished the stage in seventh place.
- The race returned to green on lap 121 with the No. 20 team in the ninth position.
- With the stage continuing under a long-green flag run, Jones made a scheduled green-flag stop on lap 171 from the ninth position for four tires, fuel and another set of adjustments. Once the field cycled through stops, Jones was scored seventh.
- The caution waved on lap 179 and while the team had less than 10 green-flag laps on their tires, the decision was made to pit for four tires and fuel and not risk losing time and positions with the tire fall off. The race restarted on lap 185 with Jones in the eighth position.
- The race remained green until lap 230 when the caution waved to end stage two. Needing the Sport Clips Camry to turn better, Jones pitted for four tires, fuel and another set of adjustments.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 231 – 367)
- Jones started the final stage from the sixth position and finished the race with a fourth-place finish.
- For the final stage of the Southern 500, the race restarted on lap 235 with Jones in the sixth position.
- Several laps later on lap 244, the caution flag waved for a single-car incident and Jones pitted from the fourth position for four tires, fuel and adjustments. An issue on pit road slowed the team and Jones restarted the race from ninth on lap 250.
- As the race again continued under a long green-flag run, Gayle called Jones to pit road on lap 294 for a scheduled green-flag run for four tires, fuel and adjustments.
- With teams on varying strategies, Jones made his way to third before the caution waved on lap 320 for debris and reset the field to everyone back on the same strategy. Jones made his final trip to pit road for four tires, fuel and a small adjustment. The race restarted on lap 326 with the Sport Clips team in third place.
- Slipping to sixth following the restart, Jones was able to gain two positions late in the race to cross the finish line with a fourth-place finish.
ERIK JONES, No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 4th
How were the track conditions and how did things change for you over these 500 miles?
“It was good. It was really tough to pass. Once you got up inside the top-seven or eight, those guys were all pretty equal, and it was hard to make ground from there. We started deep, 30th, today and drove up and finished fourth. We got a couple of extra spots at the end, but this Sport Clips Camry was quick. We just never got up front. We just needed to get up front and get some clean air. That’s what we did last year. I thought we had just as good of a car as what we did last year. We just never got to the lead. That’s what held us back, I think. It’s tough. The cars are finicky. They are on edge, and it’s really hard to make ground, but decent day.”
- The finish marked Jones fourth top-five finish and sixth top-eight finish in just six starts at Darlington Raceway.
- Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch finished seventh, Denny Hamlin finished 13th and Martin Truex Jr. finished 22nd.
Up Next: The NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Richmond Raceway on Saturday, September 12, 2020. The race broadcast will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on NBCSN, MRN radio and SIRIUS XM Channel 90.